So we didn’t get the snow…but there’s still hope

Since Bismarck-Mandan got cheated out of the heavy snow that was so ominously forecast, I thought I’d share a few pictures I took of the nasty spring storm we received in Bismarck-Mandan back in 1997. This was a particularly wicked storm, as the snow was very fine and icy. It packed in so tightly that the roads had to be cut open with snowblower-equipped payloaders, instead of simply plowed.

At the time I lived north of Century in the vicinity of Montreal Street. Since only the major roads were cut open, I had to hike around six blocks down to Century Avenue, where the big KFYR-TV 4×4 engineering truck was waiting to transport me to work. As you can imagine, we were pretty busy in a news capacity at that point.

It was a surreal walk down to Century Avenue. The snow was taller than even full size pickups parked along Montreal Street, and as I walked down the road I noticed that I wasn’t leaving any footprints. The snow was made of such fine snow crystals and packed so tightly that I wasn’t breaking through the surface. Every now and then I’d see part of a pickup cab poking up through the snow, but for the most part I couldn’t even tell where the street was, much less where cars were parked.

After the roads were beginning to clear, a crazy friend picked me up in his Escort GT and we went out to document the whole thing. At this time I had merely a little Canon point-and-shoot film camera, but I think it tells the story:

The perspective on this one is slightly misleading, since I was sitting in a compact car. But you get the idea.

As you can see from the walls of snow lining Century Avenue, these roads were literally cut open, as plowing would do no good. Not only was the snow too deep, but it was fine, compacted “sugar snow” composed of tiny little crystals. It was rock hard.

Since we were already into Spring, the sun started to work on the snowbanks right away. They’re melting down pretty quickly. We weren’t in a particularly low-riding car, but even along the Expressway the snow was taller than we were.

The fence along the Expressway was almost completely hidden by snow. Lots of places were packed in completely as the snow settled in and froze solid.

It was a Saturday storm, and I remember being quite put out at having some of my motorcycles stranded at the Hall of Ports for the annual Freedom Riders Motorcycle Show! At least I got to bring home some trophy hardware later.

Anyway…if you’re feeling slighted by the lack of tall snowbanks (especially after all the hype over the last few days), maybe this will help get you through it! And at least we’ve still got wind…

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